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USAFA Distinguished Graduate honorees announced
March 20, 2023
Honorees include former Air Force chief, USAFA’s first female commandant of cadets and former Academy vice dean and athletic director
The United States Air Force Academy and the Association of Graduates are proud to announce the selection of three Distinguished Graduates who will be honored this summer.
Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Hans Mueh, Class of 1966, of Colorado Springs, Colorado; Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Susan Desjardins, Class of 1980, of Exeter, New Hampshire; and Gen. (Ret.) David Goldfein, Class of 1983, of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, will receive their awards at the annual Distinguished Graduate dinner on Saturday, Aug. 12, at the Air Force Academy.
Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Hans Mueh (Colorado Springs, Colorado) served as the Academy’s athletic director from 2004 to 2015. Born in Germany during World War II, Gen. Mueh immigrated to the United States with his family at age 7. Upon graduation from USAFA, he finished his master’s degree and then taught chemistry for two years at his alma mater, before deploying for the Vietnam War. Gen. Mueh returned to the States to complete his Ph.D. and again teach at the Academy. He eventually became a permanent professor and head of the Department of Chemistry. Later, he served as vice dean of the faculty. When he retired from the military, he took on the role of director of athletics at the United States Air Force Academy. Gen. Mueh currently serves on the board of directors of the USAFA Association of Graduates, as a trustee of the Falcon Foundation and as a member of the Air Force Academy Athletic Corporation board.
Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Susan Desjardins (Exeter, New Hampshire) is a member of the first co-ed USAFA class. During her Air Force career, she was the first female wing commander of the 437th Airlift Wing at Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina; USAFA’s first female commandant of cadets; the first female director of Strategic Plans, Requirements, Programs for Air Mobility Command; and the first U.S military woman to negotiate nuclear arms control treaty compliance and verification issues with the Russian and Ukrainian militaries. During her tenure as commandant, Gen. Desjardins revitalized cadet ownership of the Honor Code. She helped restructure the Cadet Wing and implement the new Officer Development System. A command pilot with more than 3,800 flying hours primarily in tankers (KC-135A, KC-135R, KC-10) and cargo aircraft (C-17A, C-5B), Gen. Desjardins serves on the national board of directors for the Order of Daedalians. In retirement, Gen. Desjardins sits on several national and local nonprofit boards. She serves as a trustee of the Falcon Foundation, which supports preparatory school scholarships for the Air Force Academy.
Gen. (Ret.) David “Fingers” Goldfein (Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas) served as the 21st chief of staff of the Air Force from 2016 to 2020. He was the fifth Academy graduate to rise to that role. Among his contributions as chief, Gen. Goldfein focused on empowering squadron leaders, developing joint efforts, and digitizing and connecting joint warfighters. A command pilot with more than 4,200 hours in the T-37, T-38, F-16C/D, F-117A, MQ-9 and MC-12W, Gen. Goldfein flew combat missions in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Allied Force and Enduring Freedom. On May 2, 1999, Gen. Goldfein’s F-16 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over Serbia and he was successfully rescued. During his remarkable 37-year Air Force career, in addition to serving as chief of staff, Gen. Goldfein served as the vice chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, where he presided over the Air Staff and served as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Requirements Oversight Council and Deputy’s Advisory Working Group. Prior to that, Gen. Goldfein was director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, among other positions.
The Academy and the Association of Graduates have together selected Distinguished Graduates each year since 2001. Similar to a hall of fame induction, the award recognizes Air Force Academy graduates who have set themselves apart by making a lifetime of significant contributions to our nation, to the Air Force Academy and to their communities.
This year’s honorees bring the total number of USAFA alumni to be honored as Distinguished Graduates to 56.
Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Hans Mueh '66
Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Susan Desjardins '80
Gen. (Ret.) David “Fingers” Goldfein '83